Baby Name Advice Column: Ask the Name Lady Baby Name Blog

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Is My Favorite Baby Name Too Weird?

I've been having a love affair with the name Calypso since I was 16 years old! I love the name, I love the sound, I love the Greek mythology, and I love the nickname Caly to go with it. My husband also loves the name, but neither of us are sure if we should use it. We aren't sure how our families, or friends, or anyone else will react to this name! Do we take a chance? Or should we be looking elsewhere with these doubts? - Calypso Lover

You want to know how people will react to the name? I have two syllables for you: Day-O. A typical person who hears Calypso is more likely to think "Harry Belafonte" than "Greek nymph."

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Does My Brother Have Dibs on My Favorite Name?

I am having my third child and plan to name the child (if it is a boy) after my father. My older brother has two daughters, and is recently remarried. He has talked about having more children. My father is the only boy in his generation, as is my brother. Am I allowed to name my child Michael or am I supposed to save it for my brother in case he ever has a boy? - Mom to be

I suspect that many of my readers will find your question flat-out baffling. Of course a daughter is allowed to honor her father with a namesake grandson, why not? But a few of you are thinking, “Whoa girl, not cool! You’d better get your brother’s OK first or you’re begging for a family feud.”

That’s because this question takes us beyond the realm of baby naming rules, into the twisty world of family traditions.

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Is My Daughter's Name Too Confusing?

We named our daughter Kennedy for her first name and Devyn for her middle name. We now realize that when just hearing her name, no one knows if she is a boy or girl, because both first and middle names can belong to a girl or a boy. Did we make a mistake? Should we change her name while she is still very young? - Girl's Mom

You chose two names with a similar style. Most parents do. Our tastes are consistent, and we like the way "matching" names sound together. But as you've discovered, a matching pair can also double up on problem spots like gender confusion.

Does that make your name choice a mistake? That depends on what your goal was when you named your daughter. If your main objective was a fashionable, contemporary name with an androgynous edge, you got it. If your priority was a "can't miss" name that nobody will misspell or misunderstand, then you've gotten a rude wake-up call.

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Can I Avoid Nicknames?

I am due in December, and my husband and I like the name William. The problem is our last name, which ends in "ll" as well, rules out the nickname Will. We do not like any of the other popular nicknames for William. How reasonable is it to expect that little William will be called by his full name instead of having family and friends shortening it into a nickname that is either a tongue twister, or a name we don't care for? - No Will, No Way

If you aim for the full William, you won't be alone. More and more families are turning toward the formal today, filling playgrounds with the likes of James-not-Jim and Daniel-not-Dan. The standard nicknames just sound too ordinary for today's parents. After all, it was "every Tom, Dick and Harry" who stood for the everyman, not "every Thomas, Richard and Henry."

But as many Name Lady readers have told me, nicknames have a life of their own. Parental control only goes so far.

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I'm the Victim of a Baby Name Thief!

I had a baby name picked out for about ten years. I made the mistake of telling someone about it, and then they took the name and used it: not just the first name, but the first AND middle name I picked! It's completely uncommon. I never heard it in the ten years I had it in my head. I know full well that I have no ownership of the name, but whenever I see this person writing their baby's name I actually feel betrayed. Is this completely insane? - Confused in NY

Name thieves are the scourge of the baby-naming world. Visit any messageboard devoted to expectant moms to see how many cousins, colleagues, and in-laws are guilty of breaking and entering into personal name storehouses.

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Does My Baby Need a Whole Name?

I want to name my baby boy J.R. as his first name. My grandfather was nicknamed J.R. and I want to name my son in honor of him. Since my husband and I can't agree on what the J and R would stand for I'm thinking of just naming him with initials. Do you think it's okay to name a child with just initials? Or do you think we should pick a name and then call him J. R.? - Initial Decision

Well, that's a creative solution to a naming deadlock: not choosing a name at all!

I can understand the temptation. You'll call him J.R. regardless, so why go through the agony of hammering out a compromise? But you planned to give him a full name. And there was a reason for that, wasn't there? I don't think it's fair to your son to punt just because the choice is turning out to be tougher than you expected.

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Do I Have a Boy's Name?

My name is Tracy. I have been told by many that it is the male version of the name -- that the female version is supposed to be either Treacy or Tracey. I am a woman. Can you clear this up for me? - Tracy

Treacy? Oh dear.

You've fallen victim to America's love-hate relationship with androgynous names. Parents of girls flock to unisex surnames and even traditional male names, but then a lot of them edge away. "We thought Aidan would be cool for a girl," they'll say, "but we spelled it Aidynn to make it more feminine." If you wanted something feminine, one might ask, why did you choose a boy's name to begin with?

Now these timid, semi-androgynous names are rebounding on your cross-gender classic.

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How Can We Compromise on Baby Names?

I'm currently in my second trimester with twins, a boy and a girl. We settled on our son's name easily, Nathaniel James. However, we can't seem to find the perfect girls name. I would like to find a name that matches our son's. I'm in love with old names like Agatha and Celina, but she's more into modern names like Ariel or Harper. Any suggestions as to where we can find a good compromise? - Mom of Nathaniel +1

Compromise is a tricky word when it comes to baby names. What's the midpoint between Agatha and Harper -- Agaper? Harpatha? To find real middle ground, you have to understand the styles on each side.

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Can I Give My Daughters the "Same" Name?

My two-year-old daughter's name is Elizabeth. Since Isabella is the Spanish version of the name Elizabeth, should I not name my new baby Isabella? The two names sound and look completely different to me, but will this create a lifelong problem for my two daughters? - Isabella Lover

Don't we all create lifelong problems for our children? Luckily, choosing the names Elizabeth and Isabella ranks low on the scale of Ways To Give Your Kids Complexes. I'd say it comes in just above making them wait until high school to get their ears pierced.

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Will This Name Doom My Baby?

After years of trying, we are thrilled to be expecting a baby girl. I didnt think the naming would be hard...I've always liked "Mallory" because it's cute, but not that common. But while looking up name meanings I was horrified to discover that it means "ill-fated young woman." Now I'm a little unsure. - Ill-Fated Mom

Let's talk for a minute about the meaning of meanings.

Of course, none of us want our kids' names to mean something awful. But where did this idea come from that a name's "meaning" is some obscure Latin root you track down via twists and turns through Middle English and French?

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